Sunday 12 December 2010

10th December 2010 - New Rift Pot

In the description of New Rift it mentions that even with moderate rain the crawl between the first and second pitches can become impassable. It hasn't rained in weeks but the cold snap had ended during Wednesday night and with temperatures rising by the best part of 20 degrees what effect would the snow melt have had?
With neither of us ever having visited Rift before, there was only one way to find out...

As we drove up the lane to Mason gill we could see that a lot of water had come down recently with gravel strewn across the road in a number of places. Just before the water treatment works the sheet ice started and Tom skillfully turned the car around before parking on the most ice free spot we could find.

Finding the large shake hole in which the entrance sits, our worst fears were becoming a reality. The remaining snow was melting fast and all of the melt water was making it's way down the wood covered opening. As we geared up we heard an ominous rumble from within, a lump of ice making its way down the first pitch.

From within the entrance we began to get an idea of the amount of material held back by earlier explorers using wood shuttering. Neither the state of some of the wood, nor the water filtering through it filled us with much confidence, still there were some nice ice formations. An in-situ rope soon saw us at the bottom of the pitch and a first look down the crawl leading to the next pitch.

The water seemed to be confined to a very small trench in the crawl, so removing my SRT gear I set off to have a look. A couple of shallow pools were no match for my brand new, tailormade undersuit and so I kept going till a slot in the floor allowed me to stand up. Nice and cosy and working on the principle that the melt rate should be decreasing as the night set in, I set off down into another crawling section.

Unlike the wider passage that had gone before, this was more tube like. Another drop in the floor beckoned so I kept going until I had the disconcerting feeling of water coming over my shoulders. Though the drop in the floor was only a couple of feet away I crawled backwards as fast as I could, trying to let the backed up water run underneath me, rather than over. Standing once again and lesson learnt I made way back to Tom and the climb back up to the entrance.

Tom making his way out of the entrance (exit?)

Tom accepted my apology for possibly not the best choice of cave and the forshortened nature of the trip with unparalled grace. It was almost as though he was happy to be making his way back to the pub so soon.
As we approached the water board building, there was something not quite right. On leaving the car it had been neatly parked by the side of the lane next to one of the walls. It now sat nearly right across it about 6 feet further down the lane. The handbrake was still on and there was no sign of outside interference. Spooky.
"I'm sure this is where I parked the car."
John would have loved this trip, we probably spent longer in the Craven Heifer than we did underground and still got home at a reasonable time.
My thanks go to Dennis at Jumpsuits for a fantastic new undersuit and my apologies again to Tom for about the shortest trip of the season so far.

1 comment:

Tom Phillips said...

don't apologise - trip was perfect length!